A long, hot, Italian Summer (Part II): winds of war in migrants’ detention centres

After last year, 2010 brought another fiery summer in Italy’s detention centres for migrants (C.I.E.), where people are detained waiting to be deported. At the beginning of the summer the length of time of detention increased to 6 months, thanks to new  “Security Package” approved by the government. Also, the Italian government has made a special agreements with Algeria and Tunisia to speed up the deportations of migrants coming from those countries. In many CIE’s Tunisians especially have been on the front line of revolts. Here follows a brief and incomplete chronicle of the past few months:

Trapani, 14th July
At least 15 people manage to escape. The news of the break only comes out after a couple of days: 27 people would have tried to escape, 12 caught straight away. According to other sources, it was about 40 people…4 of the migrants involved get blamed for the events and are immediately transferred to prison. For a change and some fresh air.

Turin, 14th July
Turin is home to one of the most “famous” (not for good reasons) CIE. The revolts begin when a group of migrants try to stop the deportation of 3 of them. In the end the police takes away 2 of those people. The remaining start breaking objects in the cells and setting fire to the mattresses. Some climb up on the roof.

A solidarity picket is quickly organised outside the CIE. When the news is heard that some injured migrants have been left unattended, a group of activists occupies the yard outside the main Red Cross’ office. The occupation only stops when finally a doctor is sent to the CIE to take care of the injured. One of the migrants, Samir, who has cut himself gets sedated and taken away, only to wake up next morning in another CIE in Rome.

Gradisca, 17th July
As in Turin, the revolts begin after an attempt of deportation of a group of Tunisians. Some of the detainees climb up on the roofs, the police responds with teargas. In another wing of the centre, detainees drag mattresses into the yard and set them on fire to distract the police. One of the migrants on the roof gets hit by a teargas stick and falls onto the mattresses on fire – he gets taken away to hospital. The following Tuesday the detainee who had resisted his own deportation gets 9 months in jail, for resisting a public officer.

Turin, 19-22 July
A Tunisian migrant, Sabri, climbs on a roof to protest against his imminent deportation. He’s amongst those who took part in the previous revolt. A group of activists gather outside the CIE. Sabri stays on the roof for 3 days and 3 nights, while the picket carries on and activists support his struggle by flyering, radio shows and other.

On the 3rd day the police, helped by the firemen, drags Sabri down, twisting his ankle. In the streets the picket activists try to block the 2 main entrances to the CIE, and they get charged and beaten up. In the evening a march of at least 500 people walks around the CIE.

Sabri didn’t make it, but thanks to his struggle his story and the migrants’ stories have travelled beyond the cells and bars of the CIE.

Roma, 23rd July
Samir, the guy who had cut himself on the revolt of 14th July in Turin and had been transferred to Rome, climbs on a roof and swallows bits of glass. He is released on the last of his detention days.

Bari, 30th July
At least 50 people try to escape, only 6 manage it. Another 30 climb on the roofs, throwing things at the police, carabinieri, and even army officers below. 18 people get arrested and charged with “devastation, looting, and resisting public officers”.

Brindisi, 5th August
16 people try to escape, 8 manage it. 2 army officers get injured in the riots. Between May and July 33people have escaped from this centre.

Trapani, 6th August
Some detainees attack the guards and try to escape. 50 army officers are sent to the place to put down the revolt. The decision of using the army in detention centres is due to far-right (= racist) Northern League MP Roberto Maroni, who has managed to get another one of his brilliant schemes approved just the day before (“Safe Streets”, it’s called…).

On the same day – 5th August – the Parliament has approved a new law about military missions abroad. The law includes new agreements with Libya that allow the Italian Finance Guard to patrol the seas between the 2 countries.

The war against the poor continues…

the Resistance, too!

Translated by Italy Calling.

2 responses to “A long, hot, Italian Summer (Part II): winds of war in migrants’ detention centres

  1. Bravo, Paola.
    The reality of our european-rotten countries is so sad. I recommend you Iñigo Dominguez’s blog about Italy.

  2. Pingback: Ιταλία: Εξεγέρσεις και ταραχές σε κέντρα κράτησης μεταναστών « Contra Info

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